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Tips for improving team engagement

Managing a team? Here are ten ways you can start improving their engagement levels straight away.


If you’re a manager, improving employee engagement in your team should be one of your biggest priorities. Not only will it improve your team’s efficiency, productivity, and performance – it will also free up more of your time to focus on more strategic work (maybe even your own professional development). 

Whether engagement in your team is high or low, or somewhere in between, you have an opportunity: to make it better. Luckily, we partnered with Engage for Success to create an eLearning course that’s full of tips for improving team engagement. Here are our top ten.

1. Take ownership of your own engagement

Before you can engage others, you need to be engaged yourself. You need to take personal and professional ownership of your own engagement. By building your awareness of what drives your engagement and working hard to improve it, you’ll provide a template for others to follow, as well as gain valuable insights into how to cultivate engagement in others.

Try formally recognising employee engagement in your job description and personal performance objectives. If you give it the same importance as your other goals, you’re providing an extra incentive to yourself to improve it.

2. Get your team involved early

To be successful, you need to explain to your team that employee engagement will be one of your top priorities. They need to understand and believe in what you want to achieve, why you’re doing it, and how they can help make it happen. Most importantly, you need to bring your team along with you. 

  • Set up a team meeting to explain what you want to achieve. Bring it all to life in a way that’s real and meaningful for your team.
  • Ask your team to take part in the conversation and share their ideas on how to improve engagement. Be sure to treat all contributions fairly and with respect. 
  • Develop a shared plan for improving engagement by getting everyone involved in deciding what actions you’ll take (and which team member will own them).
  • Make engagement a regular and natural feature in team conversations so that it continues to be prioritised. 
  • Make sure your actions constantly reflect your commitment to your team and to making things better for them.

3. Work out what drives individual engagement

Every one of us thinks and feels very differently about work and workplaces. The same applies to what engages us. Learning what drives the personal engagement of each of your team will help you better understand how to encourage and support them.

4. Set clear goals and expectations

If each of your team understands how they contribute to the team and organisation’s success, they’ll be much more likely to be aligned, feel included and be proud of achievements. 

You can help them see the big picture by setting clear goals for each of your team that are aligned to your team and organisation objectives – and reinforcing expectations through regular coaching conversations and by sharing thoughtful and constructive feedback.

Don’t wait for an annual review to talk to your team about performance. Instead, hold regular conversations throughout the year so that your team are crystal-clear on your expectations.

5. Look after your team’s wellbeing

There’s a strong relationship between wellbeing, engagement, and performance. If employees feel psychologically safe, they’re far more likely to deliver their best work. 

  • You can help boost wellbeing by treating each of your team as individuals and with fairness and respect – so that they feel accepted, understood, cared for, valued and comfortable that their needs are provided for.
  • Develop your awareness, sensitivity, and intuition across all aspects of employee wellbeing – and familiarise yourself with all the relevant policies and processes that apply to different members of your team.

6. Get better at managing remotely

Remote or hybrid working is here to stay. That means you’re going to need to be able to manage and maintain healthy working relationships from a distance. Like any long-distance relationship, keeping things positive and productive will require a level of effort above and beyond the usual.

  • Set them up for success – make sure they have the equipment, conditions and ways of working needed to work remotely. 
  • Communicate and connect – help team members stay in the loop with both work and social updates (like birthdays and shared interests). 
  • Help establish clear boundaries – help them set and maintain appropriate boundaries (like not replying to emails and messages out of normal office hours). 
  • Celebrate achievements – make sure the achievements and successes of your remote workers are clearly visible and valued.
  • Trust them – be clear about the outcomes you need, then allow them to take accountability for how they deliver. 
  • Get people together – while digital communication and collaboration tools can help, nothing beats getting everyone together.

View more tips from the CIPD here.

7. Look at your team mechanics

Teams that function well are more likely to perform well. Your role as a manager is to ensure that work is designed as efficiently and effectively as possible – and properly enabled through technology, process, communication, and culture. The questions below can help you identify issues with your team mechanics.

  • Team identity and purpose – How clearly defined is your team’s place in the organisation? How is your team’s value perceived by key stakeholder groups? 
  • Team culture – What are the social dynamics of your team? How does your team respond to success, failure, change and conflict? 
  • Team roles – How does each team member behave in the team context? How do they contribute to team wellbeing and performance? How do they relate to their team colleagues? 
  • Teamwork skills – How competent is each team member in working with their colleagues and fulfilling their responsibilities within the team? 
  • Team structure – What formal arrangement regarding roles, work and relationships define the team and how it operates? How well suited to the team’s work and individual members are these arrangements? 
  • Team governance – What ways of working define how the team operates? For example: how does the team solve problems, make decisions, manage complaints and act on resource requirements? 
  • Team comms – How does information travel through the team? How does the team use communication to drive results?

8. Look at your employee lifecycle too

We all follow the same lifecycle through any employment – we make contact, we join the organisation, we deliver, we develop, and eventually we leave. For employees, this lifecycle represents their personal employment journey – their experiences at each stage have a huge impact on their thoughts and feelings about the organisation. It’s useful to look at each stage to ensure you’re providing the best experience possible.

  • Recruitment – First impressions matter. Is your application process clear and straightforward? Do your job descriptions actually reflect the role? Do you treat all applicants with fairness and respect throughout the process?  
  • Onboarding – Do you set your new team members up for success properly? Do you make them feel welcome and valued from day one? Do you provide them with all the information and introductions they need to hit the ground running?
  • Performance – Do each of your team members have clear goals and objectives for the short and long term? Do you regularly hold one-to-one performance conversations with each of them? 
  • Development – Have you agreed professional development plans with each of your team? Do you understand where everyone wants to take their career? How often do you hold coaching conversations with your team? 
  • Exit – Do you hold exit interviews to understand why team members are leaving? Do you always thank people for their efforts and contribution to the company? What are your relationships like with team members you used to manage?

9. Develop your leadership capabilities

No matter the size of your team, you’re effectively leading your own organisation. While your team members are responsible for delivering your objectives, you’re responsible for helping to create an inclusive and innovative environment where each team member can thrive. 

To put it simply, you’ll need to become the most influential and engaging manager you can be. Luckily, best practices in team and people management are all techniques that can be learned – as can the science behind them. These six questions will help you work out where your leadership capabilities currently are.

  • How appropriate, effective and engaging is your management style (how you lead the team, exercise your authority, delegate and participate)?
  • How high is your level of emotional intelligence (your ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others)?
  • How high is your level of personal engagement (role-modelling and inspiring the higher engagement you want to see in your team)?
  • Do you have a well-managed personality and high standard of behaviour (carefully governing how you anticipate, react and respond)?
  • How high is your level of interpersonal aptitude (your ability to work effectively with other people)?
  • How high is your level of personal integrity (holding yourself to strong, consistent moral and ethical standards)?

10. Embrace continuous improvement

There’s no magic wand that will improve team engagement overnight. It takes time and effort and lots of trial and error. You’ll need to adopt a mindset of continuous improvement. 

By focusing on getting better all the time – instead of waiting until you have an issue – you’ll become more comfortable, capable, and adept at being an engaging manager. You’ll find ways to incorporate it into your ways of working. It might even become second nature. 

  1. Analyse your current state
  2. Identify your opportunities for improvement
  3. Plan change
  4. Deliver change
  5. Embed and reinforce progress

Conclusion

Following these ten tips will help you increase the engagement of your team. If you’d like to find out more, we partnered with Engage for Success to create a free eLearning course on employee engagement for managers. There’s also a wealth of information available on the Engaging Managers’ Zone.

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